Bhubaneswar: Wildlife Sanctuary – a protected area within which flora and fauna can live in the environment best suited to them. Odisha is home to around 18 wildlife sanctuaries but a lot of them are lost amid the brouhaha over the popular few.
Odisha Sun Times has listed 10 lesser-known sanctuaries in the state where you can plan a trip with your family and friends, while exploring the wildlife.
Baisipalli- Covering an area of around 168.35 square kilometres, it is adjacent to Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary in Nayagarh district. You can spot not only tigers and elephants but also sambars and deer along with a wide variety of fauna, including migratory and resident avian. November to March is the best time to visit this secret wildlife abode.
Balukhand- This wildlife sanctuary, around 10 km from Puri, was established to protect the endangered blackbuck and shoreline nesting sites of Olive Ridley turtles. It covers an area of around 72 km.
Debrigarh- An important in-situ wildlife conservation site, this wildlife sanctuary in Sambalpur includes an impressive array of biodiversity and a large variety of species. Tiger, leopard, hyena, bison, sambar, spotted deer, monitor lizard and chameleon are some of the animals you can spot here. The deciduous mixed forests make it a lot more attractive.
Hadgarh- Situated in Keonjhar district and spread over an area of around 192 square kilometres, this sanctuary amid the dense sal forests is home to leopard, tiger, fishing cat, jungle cat, langur, pangolin and hyena. Various species of birds and reptiles can also be seen here. Crocodiles can be spotted in and around Salandi river passing through the sanctuary. Established in 1978, this is the best spot to relish the wild and unspoilt natural environment.
Karlapat – Located in Kalahandi South Division, 12 km from Bhawanipatna, it is spread over an area of 148 sq km. The lush green dry deciduous forest and the waterfall, Phurlijharan, makes it a paradise for nature lovers. One can find leopards, gaur, sambar, nilgai, barking deer, mouse deer, soft claws ottawa and different species of birds and reptiles here.
Kotagada- Nestled in Baliguda Forest Division of Kandhamal district, Kotagarh or Kotagada Wildlife Sanctuary is a scenic beauty like panoramic coffee gardens, pine jungles and ghat roads. Moist peninsular sal forests, dry bamboo brakes and sal savannah are some of the trees found here. Animals like jungle cat, leopard, jackal, porcupine, wild bear, mouse deer and monkey are seen. Elephants are a major attraction here.
Khalasuni- Popular for housing rare variety of birds like peafowl, jungle fowl and hornbills, this wildlife sanctuary is a part of Sambalpur Elephant Reserve. The adjoining Badrama Wildlife Sanctuary makes it an abode of diverse fauna. The Khalasuni-Satkosia corridor is an important elephant corridor in the state. Other animals like cat, wolves, civets and leopards are also found here.
Kuldiha- Linked with Simlipal National Park through Sukhupata and Nato hills, this sanctuary in Balasore, adjoins Mayurbhanj forest in the west. What makes it special is the presence of endangered and threatened wild animal species like Asiatic elephant, leopard, gaur, pangolin, and giant squirrel. Endangered birds species like hill mynah, woodpecker, hornbills and eagles are also found here. An important tourist destination, this place is the largest catchment area of major rivers. It not only helps improve local climate but maintains the groundwater regime.
Ushakothi – Housing tigers, elephants, sambars, leopards and bisons, it is one of the smallest sanctuaries in the state and situated at a distance of around 22 km from Sambalpur. It comprises dry deciduous trees. October-May is the best time to go exploring at Ushakothi.
Lakhari Valley- Well-known for its spectacular elephant population, the sanctuary also shelters blackbucks. This sanctuary in Ganjam district is spread over around 118 sq km of area and is a serene spot to be away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
There’s no end to Odisha’s beauty with an extra scoop of generosity from nature and you’ll always find a holiday destination at the next corner.